5 Steps To Ramp Up Your Website Traffic For The Holidays!

You’re probably used to a welcome boost as shoppers search for the perfect gift. But are utilizing the holiday marketing opportunities to their full potential? Here are 5 steps to prepare for and attract extra holiday web traffic.

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  1. Perform a web-site “tune-up”

The last thing a stressed, last minute shopper wants is a slow loading website. Believe it or not , every second counts – in fact a delay of one second leads to a 7% loss in conversion. Your consumer has plenty of options. If they grow frustrated with the speed of your site, they can simply turn to one of your competitors. Remember that even though it is not in a brick and mortar store, shopping online is still an experience.

There are tools that can help you check your current load speed such as Google’s Page Speed Insights and GT Metrix. They also provide suggestions, which is probably the most helpful part if you are already aware your load times aren’t the best.

It also doesn’t hurt to make sure your server is prepared to deal with the extra traffic – which might mean an upgrade. Even if it seems like a pain to spend more monthly, it will be worth it when your site doesn’t go down on a critical shopping day.

  1. Boost your SEO

A holiday season means a new influx of buyers who probably don’t usually frequent your site. While hopefully your marketing and advertising channels will help bring people in – a good number of new users will probably simply click on your site because it was the first relevant result that comes up. This means anticipating what people are going to search.

If you have analytics from last year, this is a great place to start because you already know keywords that were popular, and can put greater focus on them in your new content. This is a slow-building race, as it takes to time for the information to crawl in Google results, so don’t wait until the week before to start doing this.

Having a landing page focused specifically on your holiday products and deals will be the easiest place to work in language people might be searching for that wouldn’t make sense elsewhere on your site – such as “Christmas gifts for him”.

Make sure your website doesn’t have any 404, broken links, or incorrect redirects. Use Link Redirect Trace to make sure all of your redirects are working properly, and Screaming Frog to look for 404 errors or broken links. It’s essential for your site to work FLAWLESSLY for both users and Google spiders.

  1. Add a charitable focus

Christmas is a time where people are in a giving mindset – and not just for family members and friends, but the community around them in general. If your company has a charity whose values they support, Christmas is a great time to form a partnership. Whether it’s donating a certain percentage or taking part in an event, people will be inspired to support you when they see you helping work towards the greater good.

Adding a page about this on your website means people who already support the charity might find you, and it is easy to structure a campaign around this for an extra boost. Just make sure it’s an organization you can truly support and that you know is legitimate.

  1. Prepare your Security

The most data breaches happen around the holidays. This fact SHOULD scare you, because the loss of a day website’s traffic the weekend before Christmas is likely to affect your bottom line a lot more than a day of downtime in the middle of the summer.

If you don’t know if your website is ready, have an inside or outside IT technician run an audit of your current security system – firewalls, data protection to search for flaws. Ask them to predict common attacks and see if that tactic would work.

Once you are sure your website is safe, help shoppers feel secure. One way to do this investing in SSL authentication. A user can recognize a website that has this because the url will start with “https” instead of “http” and a specialized green lock icon. You can also get a “trust seal” from a source such as Norton to reassure the consumer your site is virus free.

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  1. Have a Strong Mobile Plan

Your mobile website should just get as much attention as your desktop version. Following all the above steps for mobile may look different with condensed pages and images and a different browsing experience. You will also need to take additional security protocols for mobile threats, that differ from desktop ones. This is double the effort but with smartphone shopping so popular, it is essential.

You may even consider investing in a smartphone app if you haven’t already done so. The advantage here is being able to send push notifications to the user. You can alert them of different items going on sale, sales coming to an end, and other special offers. This could help remind a user to finish a transaction who might have got distracted and abandoned their cart.

It might feel tempting to rely on the natural influx of shoppers for the holiday season. But every one of your competitors is expecting extra traffic too – so make sure your company’s website stands out! Putting the pieces together in advance for a successful digital holiday marketing plan means less stress when the extra users start to flow in. Make this season a merry one not just for your shoppers, but for your company as well.

The 3 Types of Entrepreneurs You See on Shark Tank

We can actively deny it, but the truth is that we like reality shows. We really do. Especially, when these shows are entertaining and educational at the same time. A telling example of such a show is ‘Shark Tank’, which is so popular among experienced businessmen, young entrepreneurs, and even housewives. The entertaining part of the show is obvious and out of doubt. Let’s face it: not any show can manage to win Emmy Award twice. As for the educational part, questions might arise. However, if this show has taught us anything, it is that not all entrepreneurs are equal. Mark Cuban stated that there are three categories of entrepreneurs we can see on ‘Shark Tank’. Wonder what categories are there?

Type one: honest entrepreneurs

While in a perfect parallel reality all entrepreneurs deserve to be called honest, here and now  only a small part of entrepreneurs belong to this category. So, what makes a regular entrepreneur an honest one? First and foremost, it is an implicit belief in a project or idea this entrepreneur is working on. As we can observe while watching ‘Shark Tank’, honest entrepreneurs tend to sound passionate when they talk about their start-up, and they seem to be very frank and emotional. Any fan of ‘Shark Tank’ would agree that entrepreneurs of this category are not only persuasive but also successful due to their enthusiasm and motivation, which they are not afraid to demonstrate.

Type two: arrogant entrepreneurs

Although the name of the category is self-explanatory, still this type of entrepreneurs deserves being discussed and explained in details. There are three words that can describe arrogant entrepreneurs: they are self-confident, tricky, and snobbish. For some reason, arrogant entrepreneurs consider themselves the smartest and coolest people of the show. Of the entire history of all existing shows, to be more specific. While sometimes they haughtiness might be justified, in the majority of cases it is not. However, arrogant entrepreneurs tend to be the best and most interesting pitchers. Obviously, they are familiar with the best practices of negotiation, and this knowledge helps them stand out among the competitors. We do not know for sure if the participants of ‘Shark Tank’ are prepared to pitch and negotiate professionally as Andrew Medal believes, but is is safe to say that some pitches can make great case studies.

Type three: scam artists

Watching such entrepreneurs taking part in ‘Shark Tank’ can be annoying but interesting at the same time. So-called scam artists make their way to the show with one single purpose to get money. Just like the previous category of the entrepreneurs, scam artists tend to act snobbish. However, contrary to the arrogant entrepreneurs, scam artists never have a valuable and original idea to offer. Rather often projects of scam artists are designed specifically for participation in ‘Shark Tank’, and it is hardly possible not to notice how material and mercenary those people are.

Needless to say that all entrepreneurs are unique and not everyone in business is going to comply with this classification. However, as long as ‘Shark Tank’ remains the most popular show of its kind, no one knows the world of entrepreneurship better than people working on this show. With this in mind, there are grounds to assume that today’s world of business contains at least three types of entrepreneurs, and now you can consider yourself an expert in this question.

4 Ways To Increase Revenue From Social Media

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Once businesses move beyond the blind quest to accumulate as many followers as humanly possible, they find that engagement, interaction and ingenuity on social media can lead to higher sales and more repeat business. Instead of chasing vanity numbers, it’s important for brands to shift the focus towards actual conversions and sales.

In this article, we’ll discuss four elements of a revenue-boosting social strategy:

  1. Include an Online Store

Traditionally, social media acted as the middleman between research and purchase. Potential buyers would browse social media, encounter a promising product or service and then click a link that would whisk them away to an outside landing page, where they could then complete the conversion.

Publications like Entrepreneur, however, suggest cutting out the middleman altogether by embedding shopping carts directly into social pages. Facebook, for example, supports ecommerce apps that enable users to open stores, which allows customers make purchases without ever leaving Facebook.

The fewer touchpoints customers encounter on their buying journeys, the fewer chances they have to exit the process altogether. Businesses can boost revenue by consolidating their purchase order template, shopping cart and checkout function all in their social media platform of choice.

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  1. Rethink Customer Service

It’s no secret that customers turn to social media to vent, to complain, to report problems, to seek help and — occasionally — to shower businesses with praise. Research shows that 42 percent of customers who turn to social media to express a concern expect a response within 60 minutes.

Solving problems through social media provides multiple benefits. Research shows that customers spend between 20 percent and 40 percent more with companies who quickly address their concerns on social media.

Equally important is the public setting in which social customer service takes place. When a business addresses and resolves a customer’s issue on Facebook, Twitter or any other platform, everyone in that customer’s network sees that the business in question is diligent and responsive.

  1. Focus on Engagement, Not Raw Numbers

Marketers historically have focused on the number of fans and followers their social accounts attracted. It is becoming more and more evident, however, that quantity of followers has far less impact on revenue than the level of engagement per follower.

By asking questions, responding to inquiries and focusing on interaction, businesses can boost the number of shares, reblogs, retweets, likes and comments per post — all of which are more important than sheer volume of followers. Research shows that engaged customers spend nearly twice as much money as non-engageds social customers.

  1. Develop Social-Specific Landing Pages

Visitors who enter your website through social media are generally coming from the top of the sales funnel. Unlike say, PPC visitors who are nearing the end of their purchasing journey at the bottom of the funnel, social visitors are probably just discovering your brand, service or product.

It is likely those social visitors haven’t conducted more than preliminary research, and that they are unfamiliar with who you are and what you do. It is critical to create separate landing pages specifically for visitors from social media and on mobile devices. These landing pages should be more introductory and explanatory than bottom-funnel pages.

Social visitors require their own landing pages if they are ever going to convert. But an alternative solution is to avoid website landing pages altogether by embedding shopping carts and checkout capabilities directly into social pages. Businesses should remember that social media is the most direct, most personal and most cost-effective customer service platform that exists — and remember, social engagement is more powerful than big lists of followers.

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SEO Tools for Unseen Problems

SEOIn today’s online market, everyone is using anything they can get their hands on to be one step ahead of the competition. The funny thing is, the people with the most success are using things easily accessible to anyone. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the buzzword that has encapsulated everything a company or individual needs to be successful in the online market. This article lists some of the most common and effective digital marketing tools being used by top companies today.

Moz
Moz is a tool designed to search and compare keywords against each other. It can identify bad links and broken pages as well as detect data intensive areas on a website that should be rectified. If a website owner wants to improve his/her website’s visibility, Moz can help make it happen.

Other marketing tools free from Moz include:

  • Followerwonk, which allows user to compare data between Twitter accounts.
  • Mozbar, which works with an internet browser to inform users of key features on websites that have been opened.
  • Moz Local, which provides information on a website’s local citations.

Screaming Frog
Screaming Frog takes a family portrait of a website, making a full list of keywords, pages, links, and crawl levels. This tool is powerful when trying to get a picture of where a website currently is so optimizations can be made in particular areas needing attention.

SEMrush
If the owner of a website wants to know more about the keywords being used by a competitor, SEMrush is the right tool for the job. Even entering a sites URL reports 10 keywords being used by the site entered. This is a great tool for getting to know the competition so websites can make themselves stand out. It was also named one of the best SEO tools of 2015.

Clicky
Clicky is a dashboard for data that allows users to easily sort and filter visitors to analyze data associated with unique users. This information can be vital when trying to figure out how long visitors are spending on each page with the added benefit of informing the user if their website goes offline.

Google Search Console
Google Search Console is something that anyone who owns a website should never go without. This tool is meant to work with a user’s website in relation to how people using the number one search engine on the internet can stumble in the right direction. Everyone wants a higher page ranking on Google, and Google Search Console is a great tool to get it.

Piwik
Piwik provides unlimited data storage to keep track of web analytics reports with real-time updates, event tracking, and so much more. With great community support and the convenience on working for both Android and iOS, this is the pocketknife of data dashboards.

Google Analytics & Google Webmaster Tools
As with Google Search Console, if it has Google in the name, odds are anyone with a website should have it. Any online marketer is lost without the information available through these tools. An argument could be made that having these tools may give someone everything they need to start off. With a strong dashboard for data that provides link data (showing which links are getting people to a user’s website), Google Analytics & Google Webmaster Tools can help everyone from web pages to webmasters.

Woorank
Another tool that can generate reports on competitors websites, as well as the user’s website, is Woorank. Worank can provide some of the most minute details that a user may never have considered. From in-depth geodata to a convenient mobile section, this tool provides information that no other premium analyzer does.

Raven
If a user likes Google Analytics and Google Search Console, Raven uses these data sources in its analytics and does so much more. If efficiency is the game, this tool plays it just as good as anyone else — maybe better. Creating multiple online marketing reports, Raven can keep track of when a site is running well, or when there are trouble areas that need to be fixed. Raven also detects general coding errors and broken links.

These tools are just some of the many out there, and one size doesn’t fit all. Just as using a sledgehammer for a finishing nail is overkill, using a six-ounce hammer to bust concrete won’t be enough. Consider the tools above to be a starting point. When a user familiarizes themselves with one data dashboard, they can start to understand their needs and what they’re looking for as they explore other options.

For users trying to up their game or simply learn the rules, mastering and utilizing any of the above SEOs will give an edge. The more tools a user has in his/her tool belt, the more efficient they can be when it comes to solving issues on their website and optimizing their hits from search engines.

QR codes, SMS & NFC, Oh My! How to Boost Mobile Conversion Rates

We’re not just interested in a quick way to transmit a clever ad slogan anymore. It’s much more than that. Brands are taking on complex personas, and brand recognition occurs not with a jingle, but with just a few notes. Messages are getting shorter, and tools like the QR code, the SMS, and the NFC are becoming vitally important with a growing m-commerce market.

In a survey of 1,000 consumers conducted by Lightspeed Research for Accenture. Fifty six percent of consumers said that mobile devices make the shopping experience more enjoyable.

According to a 2013 study by McKinsey, m-commerce is a big deal. It says:

“Now totaling $200 billion in global transaction value, mobile commerce is projected to grow by 35 percent annually over the next five years.”

There are three prevailing methods of reaching this market.

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The SMS (Short Message Service) has been around since the early 2000’s and is still effective. They can send a short and clever slogan in a quick message, but can also contain links to redirect the user to a sight of interest. SMS services are simpler, do not require scanning technology and are often more compatible with devices in less developed parts of the world. This is important for marketers involved in international sales. And although simple in principle, it’s evolved to include services like “short codes”. A customer will receive an ad with an abbreviated number with which to become engaged with a brand. Besides messaging, it’s a way for marketers to attract visitors and redirect them to more content about your brand. Examples include:

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Beyond words: One-dimensional barcodes were a great innovation, used for attaching product data to goods in a store, to make checkout at the register quick and easy. It also tracks a parcel of mail to your door. Because the amount of information was limited, it evolved into a two-dimensional “quick response” (QR) codes which could contain more information in a smaller area. As soon as smartphones had the ability to scan, the potential was quickly apparent and a new marketing philosophy was born. Now, you can easily create a QR code (for free) and get it out there quickly.

qrcodes3

More localized communication: A more sophisticated form of communication is beginning to compete with the QR code. Near field communication (NFC) allows a user to wave a smartphone over a NFC compatible device, to send information: shipping addresses, locations, even business tools like invoices. There are no visual cues required and is easier to use than an optical scanner. Examples of applications include:

  • Grocery store checkout
  • Public service announcements on busses or trains
  • Secure online payments
  • Tagging exhibits at car shows or museums with a description/explanation

QR codes, SMS and NFC are inexpensive, effective, and easy to use technologies. In a nutshell, they boost mobile conversion rates because of how quickly the customer can become engaged. Keep that in mind when using them.

  • They should be easy to use and even easier for the user to become engaged.
  • Make them fun to use. This is a great way to entice visitors to engage in fun activities like Ikea’s Facebook tagging promotion, for example.
  • As with any other ad campaign, keep your returning customers in mind. This may be an opportunity to reward repeat customers. Increasing your customer retention by 5% can increase profits by 25% to 95%.

Mobile conversions are now the first topic of conversation among experienced entrepreneurs with regard to sales. We know that when engaging customers, time is critical. The number of words and the quality of your message means the difference between a curious click and a sale. That said, it makes perfect sense that mobile marketing is eclipsing all other methods of customer engagement, and those who provide online business tools must be prepared for it.

Using Google+ to Increase Organic Search Results

Google Plus is a relatively new social media platform that is designed to help you engage with communities and online users around the world. As such, it is clearly a great way to help improve organic search results for your website or blog. By keeping up to date with new trends and technology, using new platforms like Google+ can really help boost your SEO marketing efforts. There are several ways to engage the Google+ community that can attribute to increasing your overall organic traffic and rank among search engines. We will be covering some of the most important factors that you can use with Google+ to help you drive more traffic to your site, explain how and why it works.

Indexed Content
One major advantage that helps webmasters is the fact that Google will automatically index their posts, meaning that certain search terms entered by users will be able to find your content much easier, as it is organized and catalogued appropriately by Google. Submitting posts through Google+ may provide you more results for organic traffic, as opposed through other social media outlets.

Google Plus Local
If you own a business or provide a service, creating a local page and profile through this platform is another great way to attract searches from users within your region. Not only will this help you drive more organic traffic, it may help you increase your conversion rates or potential sales. Google+ will give preference to those with a profile, refining the results based on their geographic location. Which takes us to the next feature of Google Plus.

Personalized Content
Anyone who uses Google+ will start to receive personalized content that is based on numerous factors. From geographic preferences to search history, advanced algorithms look at the best matches for Google+ users. Those who implement this social media platform into their marketing efforts are also given preference and a higher likelihood of pages and posts that are ranked better. Personalized content for users are not the sole factor that can help you achieve results but they can attribute to the overall effectiveness in using Google.

 Content marketing

Lets be honest google weighs itself more heavily than other social networks. When targeting SEO rankings and organic traffic with content marketing make sure you share your content and promote it on Google +. Often you won’t get as many social signals as say twitter or Facebook, but the signals from Google + have been shown to carry a tad more weight and get more real shares that translate into backlinks. Infographics with unique information do really well on Google + and tend to rank naturally and quicker when focusing on Googles platform as opposed to it’s competitors. Be active in communities and don’t spam, and when you do have a piece of content ready Google’s communities are much more supportive than their alternatives.

Hangouts
There are plenty of circles and hangouts that can help you market your website to other like-minded individuals and potential clients. It is also important to note that Google+ has one of the most active and largest groups of internet marketing and SEO professionals. Staying current with new trends regarding the nuances of Google+ is important to help you get the results you desire, not to mention the communities offer special types of trainings that can translate down to you employees. There is plenty of help that can be found in the many hangouts and circles associated with Google.

Profile and Rank
Creating a Google+ profile and producing quality content can help out in so many different ways. Having a personalized touch with pictures, catchy headlines in your content and becoming an authority in your area of expertise will help improve your chances of getting ranked higher and having your content recommended in search engines. Furthermore, content that is posted using your personalized Google+ profile, provides an attractive snippet or preview of the content, making it more likely for users to click on your links.

Google+ is an evolving social media platform that continues to offer more features that are relevant to SEO. There is not just one element that can be found in Google+ that plays the biggest role in increasing organic traffic and searches to your website. It is important to utilize all of its features and remain active on your profile and in the community. Like most things in search engine optimization, it takes time and dedication to promote your site, but can prove to be a very worthwhile endeavor for those who do choose to use this in their marketing strategies.

Will the Mobile Revolution Smother the Trusty Desktop? | The State of 2015 E-Commerce

If a desktop computer could wear clothes, it would arise every morning at 6:30 a.m., don a blue shirt and khaki slacks, and hum the “Green Acres” theme song on its way to work – which is at Microsoft, of course. If a smartphone could choose its attire, it would look like a GQ hipster and wear a jacket in summer before it was cool.

This is serious stuff. Global business-to-customer (B2C) e-commerce reached sales of $1.5 trillion in 2014. Now drum roll please and a quick check of the sales analytics, in the United States, customers spent an estimated $480 billion on online sales. E-commerce has passed the tipping point to become mainstream, and its success depends on these two players: the white-collar PC and the urbane smartphone. Come 2015, what part will desktop devices, mobile phones, and shopping cart interface play in e-commerce?

Mobile and Desktop Device Ownership
In 1973, Motorola unveiled the world’s first smartphone for $3,995. That’s more than $21,000 in modern U.S. dollars. Today, everyone and his mother have phones. Ninety percent of Americans – and practically everyone under 49 – owns a cell phone. Eighty-three percent of those under the age of 29 own a smartphone, like an Android or an iPhone. The more urban, male, educated and affluent a person is, the more likely he is to own a smartphone. Differences in ownership by gender and ethnicity are negligible.

The mobile device newcomer is the tablet. In 2013, 200 million were sold. By 2017, pundits expect annual tablet sales to surpass one billion. That means one out of seven people, across the entire earth, would own a tablet. Approximately 12 percent of all time spent browsing the Internet occurs on tablets, and as will be seen, it is rapidly becoming the superstar of online shopping.

In the personal computer (PC) world, the three big players are Lenovo, HP and Dell. All report a dim future for the traditional desktop computer. The lion’s share of 2014 PC sales went to corporate businesses running large programs that require a PC, like companion diagnostics programs and personal medicine analysis, and the occasional cult of college gamers. For 2015, many predict that more people will buy tablets – not to mention smartphones – in lieu of traditional desktops and notebooks.

Synopsis: The PC is on its last tottering legs. The smartphone reigns king, and the tablet is the popular new kid on the block. Should businesses, therefore, spend the extra money to optimize website navigation and presentation for PC operating systems to entice business customers? Or should they build responsive websites and mobile shopping carts to woo the Millennial generation?

Mobile and Desktop Device Internet Usage
The third week of August 2014 held the answer. For the first time since mankind found caves, mobile devices brought more traffic to online stores than did computers.

Now, that trend comes with a soup of caveats. More desktop shoppers, for instance, used traditional search engines like Google and Bing, whereas mobile users preferred social media outlets like Facebook. That, too, comes with caveats. Antique collectibles and digital cameras are often purchased through Facebook. Home furnishings and specialty gifts, however, rarely are.

Here’s the biggest caveat of all: Mobile users may bring more traffic to online stores, but desktop users are more likely to push the buy button. Smartphone conversion rates often fall below one percent. Analogous tablet and desktop rates hover between two and three percent. This trend could be due to a dozen annoyances. Smartphones take longer to load web pages. Tablets can showcase more data per page. Desktop connections are viewed as more secure. Smartphones don’t have keyboards. Et cetera.

Perhaps the reason is simpler. Recent studies show that 77 percent of mobile users blame a poor or unsatisfying viewing or navigation experience with their unwillingness to buy from a site. For many businesses, responsive websites remain an afterthought designed for looks rather than ease of navigation. Building data-heavy interactive smartphone websites, therefore, could instantly improve conversion.

It is all well and good to know this information for the coming year. But how can a business get the data instantaneously, without waiting for pundits to crunch the numbers and paint ‘em pretty?

E-Commerce Software Programs
Meet Shopify, e-commerce software. Programs like Shopify allow users to monitor site traffic, visitor demographics, conversion rates and other metrics from the backend. It is like a digital surveillance program that does the math automatically.

A user can also hook up Shopify to third-party providers to exploit extra data. For example, a small business owner can create a dashboard with self-service analytics that enables her to transform her raw Shopify backend data into crisp, clean graphs. She can use these graphs to identify peak shopping season, customer demographic data, and her most effective marketing channels.

The mobile revolution has not yet claimed total victory. Desktop PCs, smartphones and tablets all bring billions to digital shelves. The savvy entrepreneur, therefore, will target all three devices – and buy an e-commerce dashboard to catch and crunch the salient numbers.

Image source: https://stocksnap.io/photo/VVSESFW1MS